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THE ART OF GETTING OUT OF POWER         253

one another with ideas, for if the ministers said yes to everything that
the ruler approved, they would be the kind of yes-men that Confucius
condemned as capable of ruining a country. Then he outlined his dis-
agreement with Szema Kuang on the military draft. They had dis-
agreed, yet had respected each other's opinion. But now Szema Kuang
had died, and the herd, presuming that the government was going on
with his policies, wanted only to agree with the ruler. As a matter of
fact, it was his opinion that Szema Kuang had not wanted people
always to agree with him, nor did he think the Empress wanted only
servile unanimity of opinion. Another point of disagreement was his
proposal that out of the thirty million dollars collected from the surtax
pn draft exemption, of which half still remained after defraying the
expenses for the wars in the north-west, the government should buy
land in the suburbs of cities upon which to settle the retired soldiers
and thus reduce by half the number of drafted men. "This money
comes from the people," he wrote: "it should be returned to the people."
Over such points he had steadily fought for his opinion and had
offended many people.

In a letter to his friend Yang Kwei, written around the twentieth, Su
Tungpo again condemned those that followed the herd and was justi-
fiably proud of his own independent thinking,

"I have sent several letters to the Empress asking for a post outside
the capital, but my request has not yet been granted. In the last few
days I have shut myself up waiting for the imperial order, and still
hope that I may have my wish. You must have heard of all this
trouble. The fact is, these censors don't likŁ me. The gentlemen in
other da/s all followed Wang Anshih, and today these gentlemen all
followed Szema Kuang. The persons they follow may vary, but in
the fact of following, the herd remains the same. I am an old intimate
friend of Szema Kuang and our friendship never altered, although I
never completely agreed with him. That was the beginning of all
this trouble. But I have long regarded power as oŁ no importance,
and these things don't matter."

Finally, on the twenty-third, Su Tungpo was ordered to resume his
post, and on the twenty-seventh it was decided that the officials who
had requested his trial should be pardoned.

Su Tungpo was trapped. The Empress had stood for him; his
opponents had clearly failed in their objective and lost face. There
was nothing for him to do but to resume his office. His idea of show-
ing gratitude to the Empress was a firm resolve from now on to be
even more frank and straightforward, and to tell her things about the